After almost losing a finger in a workshop accident, artist Nao Matsumoto meditated on the importance of the middle finger as a gesture of expressing discontent. Channeling reactions to news about the “nuclear meltdown” in Fukushima, Matsumoto targeted institutions that he felt needed to take responsibility, like TEPCO. In collaboration with photographer Masakazu Miura, the New York-based artist created finger-shaped candles to be snapped burning outside a pre-selected targets, to “send a message” to authorities.

Nao Matsumoto, Masakazu Miura, anti-nuclear, Fukushima, protest art, candle vigil, finger candles, sustainable art, green artwork, hpgrp gallery

‘The Silent Protest’ has evolved from a lucky escape to a thoughtful expression of rage and fear. This ongoing project not only explores the human impulse of the gesture, but also its use in communication. “Without it,” Matsumoto says, “would be like losing your voice.”

“As the candles burn,” he notes, “the middle finger melts away, leaving a sadly deformed stump of a hand. It’s symbolic of the human tendency to only be able to communicate after things are badly damaged.”

Matsumoto plans to continue pledging support for Japan’s Anti-Nuclear Energy movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement in NYC. He is also supporting anti-animal cruelty protests, using the candles to “stick the middle finger to someone” in a vigil.

For more of his work take a look at his latest sculpture exhibition, on show currently at hpgrp gallery in NYC through May 12.

+ Nao Matsumoto

+ hpgrp Gallery

Images courtesy of Masakazu Miura